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Mystery Blanket 2019: post 10, November, the final blog!

WELCOME TO THE TENTH AND FINAL INSTALMENT OF THE 2019 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB BLOG! The last piece of the ‘mystery’ has finally been revealed with the last four squares and the edging pattern to knit in the November instalment. There’s plenty of tips and advice in my blog this month to help you successfully complete your blanket, as well as a lovely member’s photo from Helen Jackson, a report on the October Mystery meeting and a list of all the MBC19 Prize Draw winners – just in case you were a winner and did not claim your prize!

So it's time to say farewell to Seth's regular blog spot with this final image of him wrapped up in the Winter Wonderland Option Two blanket - which he looks really pleased about! Thank to you everyone who has sent in such lovely comments about Seth's blog photos. You've watched him grow up month by month for the past five years, but now it is time to move on...

THE FINAL SET OF PATTERNS WERE EMAILED TO ALL THE MEMBERS ON THE 1ST NOVEMBER, and the printed patterns were posted a week ahead of that with the overseas posted on the 25th October and the UK on the 30th October. So they are on their way to you and should be with you very soon.

WITH THE EMAILED PATTERNS WE HAVE INCLUDED A LINK TO MY 'LET IT SNOW MITTS', which is a small project inspired by this year's Mystery Blanket design. What better way to use up your leftover yarns!?!

I have listed two colourways on page 1 of the instructions - a purple colourway and a green colourway. The instructions are written for the purple colourway, but if you want to knit the green colourway instead, simply substitute the yarns in the order that they are listed, ie, Iris = Watery, Lavender = Iceberg, and so on. And if you don't have enough of some of these colours, then use others from your kit or from your own stash. They will still look fabulous! But beware, because everyone will want a pair!!!

ONE SMALL ERROR HAS BEEN NOTICED ON PAGE 11 OF THE NOVEMBER MAIL OUT – which we managed to correct in the emailed mail out, however, unfortunately we were too late for the printed version.

It affects the pick-up instructions for Option One, which should read as follows:

Option One, [pick up 8 stitches, miss one stitch] 4 times, pick up 7 stitches.

Please follow these instructions for Option One if you are reading the pattern from the printed version.

I apologise sincerely for this error and hope that it does not spoil your enjoyment of knitting up your final set of squares.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THERE ARE NO PHOTOS OF THE COMPLETED OPTION TWO BLANKET IN THE NOVEMBER MAIL-OUT. However, I will be including some photos of it in my January blog, which will also feature a Member’s Gallery.

FANCY A BRAND NEW MYSTERY KAL IN 2020?!? There are still places available in the Mystery Blanket Club, but with limited memberships and only eight weeks left until the signing up deadline of 31st December, you will need to sign up soon to secure your place. There is an option to pay in instalments, or if you would like to give the Mystery Blanket as a gift you can order vouchers for any denomination from £10 up to the full cost of the membership. Just contact Sue at sue@debbieabrahams.com for more information. It could be the perfect solution to your Christmas shopping this year!

The design for 2020 focuses on lots of lovely textured stitches and stripe patterns as well as some intarsia, in a soft palette of over twenty shades of some of Rowan’s best-loved yarns including Felted Tweed, Softyak and Baby Silk Merino DK.

It’s a tantalising journey of an exploration of colour and yarn fibres, with a broad palette ranging from soft sandy neutrals and tweedy greys to brilliant shades of turquoise and green. The colour palette has been divided into two, with half of the colours sent in the first kit, leaving the other half to be revealed later on in the second parcel.

If this sounds like an interesting project to indulge yourself in next year then you can sign up to the Club in our online shop. It’s quick and easy to do and payment can be taken by Paypal or debit/credit card.

You can sign up right now by purchasing your membership in the online shop on my website: https://debbieabrahams.com/collections/mystery-knitting-clubs/products/mystery-blanket-club-2020

If you want to find out more about next year’s Mystery Blanket, it would be a good idea to visit the FAQ page on my website where you will find lots more information under ‘Mystery Club FAQS’: https://debbieabrahams.com/pages/faq

THESE ARE THE FINAL FOUR SQUARES TO KNIT THIS MONTH:

Square 25, Option One: Winter Ball – fairisle pattern with hooked-in beads:

Square 25, Option Two: Winter Ball – striped pattern with hooked-in beads:

Square 26: Icicles – moss stitch and beaded cable pattern with reverse swiss darning (same for both options):

Square 27: Frozen – striped textured pattern using three colours (same for both options):

Square 28, Option One: O Tannenbaum! – fairisle pattern with hooked-in beads:

Square 28, Option Two: See Amid the Winter’s Snow – striped reverse stocking stitch pattern with slip-stitch beads:

The edging – garter stitch stripe with textured stitches:

Here are some tips on this month’s squares to help you with your four final squares…

SQUARE 25, OPTION ONE, WINTER BALL: so, this is the centre square of this year’s blanket!!! And it’s party time with a Winter Ball packed from edge to edge with some very happy men and women enjoying a good old dance!

If you have chosen Option One for some or all of your squares, then you should sail through this one as there’s nothing new in terms of technique here. But just watch out for the hooked-in beads on rows 9, 24 and 39 as it might be difficult to see on the chart which colour is behind the bead symbols. There are two Pattern notes on page 6 which will guide you through these rows.

You can choose Option One or Option Two for Square 25, regardless of what you have chosen to knit for all the other optional squares.

SQUARE 25, OPTION TWO, WINTER BALL: an easier to knit interpretation of a Winter Ball with stripes and lots of hooked-in beads adding extra sparkle to the event. It's New Year's Eve with fireworks and bursts of colour against a dark grey sky - let's celebrate!!!

Rows 3, 7, 11 and 16 use the fairisle technique but on a very simple level. So don’t be alarmed, this one is easy to knit and you can do it!

SQUARE 26, ICICLES: this is an exact repeat of Square 24 from Mail Out 5. It was some time ago that you last knitted this, so here is a reminder of what I said about it in the June blog…

The embroidery (swiss darning) is done with the wrong side of the work facing. But don’t worry - it’s a fairly simple pattern to knit with mini three stitch cables embedded with beads set between moss stitch panels. The embroidery is added after it has been knitted. You are embroidering four vertical lines on stitches 8, 16, 24 and 32, and it’s on every other stitch, working from the bottom edge up to the cast-off edge.

SQUARE 27, FROZEN: this will be the fourth (and final!) time that you knit this square, so you should know it off by heart – or almost! Just remember to ensure that you knit each individual stitch in the P3tog clusters on the following right side rows as these stitches tend to stick together – especially the White Silver ones.

SQUARE 28, OPTION ONE, O TANNENBAUM!: this is the same as the three other O Tannenbaum! squares in this year’s blanket, which were squares 4, 22 and 45 in Mail Outs 2, 3 and 5 respectively.

To keep the design balanced you are advised to choose this option if you knitted Option Two for Square 22.

SQUARE 28, OPTION TWO, SEE THE AMID THE WINTER’S SNOW: likewise, this is the same as the three other See Amid the Winter’s Snow squares in this year’s blanket.

To keep the design balanced you are advised to choose this option if you knitted Option Two for Square 22.

THERE IS ONE PATTERN FOR THE EDGING THIS YEAR – it’s a decorative garter stitch stripe with some textured coloured stitches, so it’s a nice easy knit to finish off the blanket. You are advised to knit the left and right-hand side edgings first ahead of joining all the strips together. This is because it will be easier to manage the weight of the blanket while you are picking up and knitting these stitches, which when sewn together and completed will be fairly heavy.

Therefore, I would suggest that knit the edgings in this order: right-hand side and left-hand side of the blanket first, and then the top and bottom. This is the order that the edging pattern has been written on pages 18-21.

I have written a note on page 18 about the colours used in the edging. Some of you may have mixed up your options and knitted some Option One and some Option Two. And as you can imagine, if this is the case then there will be many variations of the completed design and differing quantities of yarn used. Each row in the edging uses approximately 2g of yarn, so if you are worried that you may run short of any of the colours, it is advisable to weigh your yarn (preferably on scientific scales or pop down to your local post office and ask to use theirs!), to make sure you have enough. And if you don’t, then use other colours that you do have enough of. Your blanket will still look fabulous and a slight change to your edging will make it look even more unique!

Two sizes of circular needle are needed to knit the edging and you must change needle size when instructed in the pattern to maintain neat and even stitches. It is recommended that you use one 100cm length circular needle to knit each edging. This will be long enough to comfortably accommodate all the stitches –there are 297 stitches after the increase on the final row.

If throughout this blanket you have not been able to match my tension and have therefore used different size needles to the suggested ones, it is essential that you grade the needles you use for the edging up and down by the same number of sizes.

For both options, make sure that you cast off the stitches to complete the edgings neatly and evenly as these are finished edges. Note that the edgings are cast off using the larger of the two needle sizes. This is to ensure that the cast-off edge is not too tight.

AND NOW FOR SOME TIPS ON PICKING UP STITCHES (for the edging)…which some of you may feel a bit daunted by, but in fact it is very simple. I would advise that you use the Stitch and Row Reference Diagrams on page 5 of the November mail out which shows the number of stitches and rows in each square. And this, together with the instructions for the edging on pages 18-21 - where I have given you the amount of stitches to pick up along the edge of each square - should help you with this task.

There are several ways that you can pick up stitches. However, along a cast-off or cast-on edge (horizontal) I prefer to pick up through the middle of stitches (rather than through the cast-on or cast-off edges). And along a selvedge (vertical) edge I prefer to pick up in the gaps between the bars that exist between the edge stitch and the next stitch in from the edge:

  • Along a vertical (side) edge: usually the basic rule to follow here is to pick up 3 out of 4 stitches, however, this will not work with every square in this blanket as the row count is not always the same. So the best way to do this is to plan out the pick up along the edge of each square separately. Place markers at equal points of measurement along the edge of the square and then divide the total number of stitches you need to pick up by the number of sections you have marked out. For example, Square 43 has 40 stitches to pick up, so if you separate the edge into four sections of equal measurement you would pick up 10 stitches in each of the four sections. My suggested technique for how to pick up stitches is as follows: with the right-side of the work facing, take the needle through the first gap between the bars (in the same place between the stitches that you inserted your needle for Mattress stitch, ie, between the edge stitch and the next stitch in). Loop the yarn around the needle and pull the new stitch through. Repeat this for all the stitches, skipping over some of the gaps when and if necessary to get the total number of stitches you need to pick up correct.
  • Along a horizontal edge (cast-on/cast-off edge): usually the basic rule to follow here is to pick up every stitch. So with the right-side of the work facing, take the needle through the middle of the stitch just below the cast-off edge/above the cast-on edge. Loop the yarn around the needle and pull the new stitch through. Repeat this all the way along the edge, making sure that you pick up the correct number of stitches along the edge of each square. Remember that where the strips have been sewn together, one stitch from each edge of a square has been caught into the seam (apart from the first and last squares which have only one stitch caught in). But note that you are instructed to pick up one stitch on every seam between the squares as well, see page 21. There are a few squares where the number of stitches to pick up is greater than the number of stitches in the square.  So when this happens, you will need to pick up the extra stitches by putting your needle between some of the stitches to achieve the correct amount. I would suggest that you plan out the edging as for a vertical picked up edge and pick up the extra stitches at equal intervals.

I HAVE BEEN ASKED WHICH IS THE BEST YARN TO USE TO SEW TOGETHER THE STRIPS. So my advice is to choose a strong yarn – Baby Silk Merino DK, Softyak or Alpaca Soft DK are the best ones – in a colour which you have plenty of. And if you use mattress stitch then you don’t need to use the same colour yarn for each seam as the stitching will not show. I know from the test knits of the blanket that you will have only very small amounts of some of the colours left over at the end of the project, so perhaps avoid using Cream or Simply White to sew up if the quantities of these yarns are minimal.

JANE MCKEAG FROM LAS VEGAS, USA, HAS LINED ALL HER MYSTERY BLANKETS, and she very kindly forwarded her advice onto me so that she can share it with the members. It is something that I have never done before myself, but it is a lovely way to finish off your blanket - that is if you have the necessary sewing skills (or know of someone else who does!)...

This is Jane’s advice:

“I’ve had several inquiries as to how to do the backing. So here’s some instructions on how I lined my 2016 Mystery Blanket, based on my quilting experience. It is the same process as preparing the multiple layers for quilting. 

I used a good quilting flannel (by Moda Fabrics), which is 44 inches wide. I bought a 1 1/4 yard (45 inches), then machine washed and dried it. I turned an edge all around which I machine sewed. I then pinned it all around to the inner border edges, and hand sewed it in place using a blanket stitch (not necessary but somewhat decorative). I laid the whole thing flat, and used large safety pins at each intersection, pinning through both layers. I used two strands of yarn from the blanket and came up from the back and down to the back at each intersection (they don’t show on the front). Then each time I turned it over and double tied the strands with square knots and clipped them close. For the tying I worked from the outside in to make sure it would stay flat. It takes quite a bit of time to finish this way, but the blanket took quite a bit of time to knit! It’s totally worth the effort, in my opinion.”

 

Thanks for your marvellous advice Jane! I am sure that many of the members will find it extremely useful and will, like you, successfully line their Mystery Blanket. I just need to find someone who can sew so that I can get my Mystery Blankets lined as beautifully as yours!

A FEW MONTHS AGO, HELEN JACKSON FROM BURNABY, CANADA, SENT IN A PHOTO OF HER LOVELY DOG MISSIE. And several months on, at the final stage of the project, she has sent in another photo of Missie, who as you can see is as eager as her owner to see the blanket finished. Helen’s called it “Still Waiting”:

 

Thanks for the very cute photo Helen, it’s a wonderful photo to finish off the member’s stories for this year’s Mystery Blanket! I am sure that Missie will enjoy cuddling up under your completed blanket as much as you this winter!

THE PENULTIMATE MYSTERY CLUB MEETING FOR THIS YEAR WAS HELD LAST MONTH IN BEESTON, NOTTINGHAM, where I was joined by Mary Leeson, Liz Jenks, Kath Owen, Joan Bray, Catherine Pope, Claire Goode and Jane Muggleton for a couple of hours of very enjoyable knit and chat at Sarah’s house.

Claire was anxious to get some help with sewing her squares together which she has knitted separately rather than in strips. So I showed her horizontal mattress stitch which she seemed to enjoy and picked up very quickly. At next month’s meeting we will tackle vertical mattress stitch for sewing the strips together.

Above: left to right, Jane, Catherine, Kath (who is almost hidden!), Joan and Claire.

Mary spent her time at the meeting working on her blanket squares, but she brought along with her a beautiful fairisle hat that she knitted some time ago. You can see it in the photo below, close to Mary's hands. No worries for you then Mary with all those fairisle squares in Winter Wonderland - you'll sail through them!

The next and final meeting for this year is on Wednesday 6th November from 4:00 – 6:00pm and I will be joining the group for some more invigorating knit and chat. There was talk of Prosecco and sweet treats to indulge in to celebrate the end of the Mystery Blanket. So if you fancy joining us for a bit of fizzy and cake as well as the knitting and chatting, please contact Sarah for more information and hopefully I will see you there! Email: info@yarn-in-notts.co.uk

I WILL BE CREATING A MEMBER’S GALLERY BLOG IN JANUARY, so please send in your photos of any Debbie Abrahams projects you have knitted this year, together with a brief description, and I will include them. It’s time to show off all your hard work and be proud of your achievements! Please send all photos and stories directly to me at: debbie@debbieabrahams.com

AND FINALLY FOR THIS YEAR, THE TENTH AND FINAL 2019 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB PRIZE DRAW!!! Each month a member is picked at random to win a Debbie Abrahams prize. So it is worth reading right the way to the end of the blog to see if you are that lucky member!

PRIZE DRAW TEN (NOVEMBER): this month’s winner is member 314, Maxine Worthington from Staffordshire, UK. Well done Maxine!

Please choose a prize from the following selection:

  • A signed Debbie Abrahams book: Blankets and Throws to Knit/More Blankets and Throws To Knit/25 Beaded Knits/Kaleidoscope
  • A Debbie Abrahams dvd: More Blankets/A Professional Finish
  • A £15 voucher towards a Debbie Abrahams Mystery Club: 2020 Mystery Cushion Club; 2020 Mystery Blanket Club

AND JUST IN CASE YOU WERE A WINNER THIS YEAR BUT HAVE NOT CLAIMED YOUR PRIZE, here is the list of all the winners from months 1-9. If your name is on the list and you haven’t claimed your prize then email Sue at sue@debbieabrahams.com and she will get it sorted for you:

  • February:  Wendy Katz (member 474)
  • March: Karen Ellmers (member 608)
  • April: Sue Couanis (member 650)
  • May: Felicity Miller (member 52)
  • June: Beth Pintea (member 692)
  • July: Brenda Tillman (member 598)
  • August: Angela White (member 13)
  • September: Nicola Gay (member 369)
  • October: Marcy Handler (member 408)

So as we come to the end of our 2019 Mystery Blanket adventure, I would like to thank all of the members for being so wonderful and enthusiastic throughout this year’s project. Your support as always has been overflowing, and it has been an absolute joy to read all your emails, share your photos and stories, and to meet many of you too! Thank you to everyone who has decided to join me again in 2020 - I will see you back here for a brand new ‘mystery’ adventure in February. But until then, enjoy completing your Winter Wonderland and I wish you all good health and happiness from now until the end of this year and into the next, Debbie x


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